Construction to begin at Cates Landing soon

Construction to begin at Cates Landing soon

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2008 10:30 pm
By: John Brannon Messenger Staff Reporter

By JOHN BRANNON Messenger Staff Reporter Construction on the $22 million Cates Landing river port near Tiptonville should start in August, The Messenger has learned. “Finally, things are moving along. I started working on this project back in 1999. It’s been a long haul,” said Jimmy Williamson of Dyersburg. Williamson, chairman of Dyersburg Electric System, also serves as chairman of the Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority board of directors. The board is a political subdivision of Lake, Obion and Dyer counties. On the port authority board, Williamson represents Dyer County; Richard Arnold and Dave Frankum represent Obion County; and Marcia Mills, Billy Earl Gray and Tony White represent Lake County. “It just takes a long time for something like this,” Williamson said. “You’ve got to go through environmental approval processes and all. This is a huge project. “We will be the owners of the harbor and all the land associated with the port.” Cates Landing, located on the banks of an oxbow of the Mississippi River about seven miles west of Tiptonville, will consist of a 150-acre deepwater port and a 350-acre industrial park. On June 13, Williamson for-warded by FedEx a Port Author-ity check for $3.6 million for the non-federal share of the cost of building the port to the Memphis district office of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. A formal opening of bids for dredging the harbor was held Thursday at the Corps’ district office in Memphis. Great Lakes Dredging of Brook, Ill., was low bidder. “We should have a harbor at the port by this fall,” Williamson said. In a related development at its June 11 meeting in Tiptonville, the port authority board selected Associated Terminals of Reserve, La., to operate the Cates Landing port. “We have signed a memorandum of understanding with them to develop a contract between now and December for them to be the terminal operator,” Williamson said. “It’s better to be lucky than to be smart. Finding those people was the best thing that ever happened to this port project. They are professionals, they are a class act and they have a great reputation in the industry. “They will make the port a success.” A benefit of acquiring Asso-ciated Terminals, he said, is that the port authority board won’t have to put in a lot of infrastructure to operate the port. “We can get a dock in, they can start unloading and start a revenue stream for the port authority,” Williamson said. “Then if a business customer comes that needs a warehouse, we can use the contract with the customer as collateral for building whatever else we need. We won’t be building anything on speculation. We’ll be building for a specific need.” Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire said he’s happy to hear the river port project is progressing. “I attended the (June 11) meeting,” McGuire said. “They did say if the river goes down, the dredging will start in August. After it’s dredged, they’ll start building a port in 50-foot increments. It’s going to cost $10,000 a foot. “This project has been a long time coming. I’m glad to see it. Lake County will get an economic boost it certainly deserves and needs. Obion County and Dyer County will also benefit from it.” Published in The Messenger 6.23.08

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